People, I have decided to look into buying a house. I was always planning to buy one eventually, and the market is so good right now for buyers. That, in addition to the fact that I prequalified for a first-time homeowners’ loan and will be eligible for an $8,000 tax credit, convinced me that I should at least look for one before the deadline expires on November 30. I figure if I can’t find anything I like and can afford before then, I will continue to rent.
However these beginning few days of home searching have been so stressful that I am not sure I will live to see the end of the process. I might die of sleep deprivation before then, counting endlessly over in my head possible mortgage payments and budgeting plans.
You see, I have never bought a house before. And up until now, I have had a significant amount of disposable income which I have been…well…disposing of. Will I be able to survive not having extra money to spend on kitchen equipment? What about traveling? Can I force myself to spend less than $400 a month on groceries? For two people? Who are vegetarians (at least at home, Mike counts as one too)? I know that might seem excessive, but the point is, I have been used to excess. Buying a house is the most financially responsible thing to do, since I will be putting all that extra money into something worthwhile, but it also makes me nervous.
Here is something else I have learned about home shopping: the importance of property taxes in what makes something affordable. I went into the process assuming it was all about the purchase price. I am learning that is not nearly the most important thing, since the purchase price can vary by what seems like a lot without making much of an impact on your monthly payment. But property taxes — which, here in New Jersey, vary widely in each little township and are also the highest in the nation — make a huge difference in what is affordable or not. In some instances, a house that is $10k or $20k more than one in a neighboring town is significantly cheaper per month, all because of the property taxes.
Also, I have learned that some people have not updated their interior decor since the 1950s.